A private school in Kentucky is making headlines after a mom claimed the Christian school expelled her daughter over a rainbow sweater and cake. In interviews with various media outlets, Kimberly Alford has alleged that Whitefield Academy, a private Christian School located in Louisville, Kentucky, expelled her daughter Kayla earlier this month after seeing a photo of the 15-year-old freshman celebrating her birthday with a multi-colored cake and a rainbow-stripe sweater.
Alford told The Courier-Journal that a photograph she'd taken of Kayla smiling with her cake at a family birthday celebration was somehow shared with Whitefield Academy officials after she'd posted it to her personal Facebook page. In the photograph, Kayla is wearing a cream-colored sweater that features four horizontal stripes of different colors. The cake also features horizontal "stripes" of piped rosettes in different colors, giving it a rainbow look.
Shortly after she'd posted the photograph, Alford claims she received an email from Bruce Jacobson, Whitefield Academy's head of school notifying her of Kayla's immediate expulsion. In comments to The Courier-Journal, Alford said Jacobson explained the school had decided to expel Kayla "due to a post on social media" that he argued "demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs."
Alford told ABC News that Jacobson referenced the photograph again in a phone call they'd had to discuss the expulsion. "When I called the head of the school to discuss it with him, I was quite emotional," she told ABC News. "He told me, 'Kim, the sweater, the cake, it just kind of represents gay pride … when you saw the cake you should have refused it.'"
While the rainbow flag is commonly seen as a symbol of LGBTQ pride, Alford told The Courier-Journal her daughter is not gay. Additionally, she also said the design on Kayla's cake was not meant to be a social or political statement. "There was nothing intended by that and even when I went back and got the receipt from the bakery, it didn't say anything about representation, it just said assorted colors," she told WAVE 3 News.
In a statement to Romper, Whitefield Academy described media reports stating Kayla was expelled "solely for a social media post" as "inaccurate."
"In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years," the statement said. "In the fall, we met with the student to give her a final chance to begin to adhere to our code of conduct. Unfortunately, she did not live up to the agreement, and therefore, has been expelled."
Alford told NBC News that Kayla had been on probation at Whitefield Academy since October for what she called "behavioral issues" that included cutting class and bringing an e-cigarette to school. She also alleged that a counselor at Whitefield had previously given her daughter the book Gay Girl, Good God, in which a woman who "experienced gender confusion" and "embraced masculinity and homosexuality" claims she was turned toward heterosexuality by God.
A digital copy of Whitefield Academy's parent and student handbook notes "the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion" to expel a student in cases where "the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home may be counter or in opposition to the Biblical lifestyle the school teaches."
"Whitefield Academy is a Christian-based school with a 43-year history of educating students in a learning environment informed by our shared Christian values," the school's statement to Romper reads. "All parents who enroll their children in our private school know up front that we ask the students to adhere to a lifestyle informed by our Christian beliefs. There are numerous school options in our community for students who do not wish to attend a Christian-based school, and we wish our former student all the best as she finds a learning environment that is right for her."
In an interview with CBS 17, Alford said she wanted to know how a rainbow sweater and multi-colored cake led the school to conclude her family was in violation of the school's rules. Alford also told NBC News that while school officials ultimately refused to meet with her when she moved to appeal her daughter's expulsion, they did agree to record her expulsion as a voluntary withdrawal on her permanent record and Kayla has recently started attending public school.
Whitefield Academy said in its statement that "it is unfortunate that one of the student’s parents chose to post internal family matters on social media" and they "hope our former student is not adversely affected by what her parents chose to make public about her situation."
Speaking to WAVE 3 News, Alford said she and her daughter "feel judged" and the situation is "just very devastating."